Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific announced a complete ban on shipments of shark fin today, joining over seventy international carriers to ban transport of the shark product. Concerned about the rapid decline in shark populations globally, shark conservation groups applauded the measure as another important step in reducing demand for shark fin. Scientists estimate that over 70 million sharks are killed annually to provide sharks for the luxury shark fin soup. Shark fin is considered a delicacy in Chinese cuisine and is often served as a soup at banquets, weddings and special occasions.

Asian marine conservationist Sharon Kwok hailed Cathay’s decision, proclaiming that it will make Hong Kong proud. “More Hong Kong businesses need to follow the lead,” Hong Kong-based conservationist Sharon Kwok said.

“On the issue of shark’s fin, with immediate effect we are happy to agree to ban the carriage,” Cathay Pacific said in a statement on Wednesday. It said it had not approved any shark fin shipments over the last year, pointing out that it had turned down 15 shipment requests for shark-related products. In 2015, the airline had said it would only transport shark fin that was sustainably sourced.

However, non profit groups like WWF- Hong Kong and international groups like Shark Stewards expressed concern that policy did not go far enough. “We congratulate Cathay Pacific for taking a strong stand for ocean health and shark conservation,” said Shark Stewards Director David McGuire “There are few known sustainable sources for shark fin, if any. Drawing a clear line reduces demand and increases awareness that shark fin soup is a dish of the past and threatens the future for many shark species. We call on other carriers including Fed Ex and DHL to follow Cathay Pacific’s example.”

Cathay is one of the world’s biggest cargo airlines, transporting people and goods particularly in the east. Following a major marketing campaign, major cargo carrier United Parcel Service announced it would stop carriage of shark fin last year. Cathay now joins airlines including Malaysia Berhad Airlines, British Airways, American Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Air Emirates and a list of over 70 airlines in banning shark fin.

About Shark Stewards

Based in San Francisco California USA, Shark Stewards is a non profit project of the Earth Island Institute. Shark Stewards mission is dedicated to restore ocean health by saving sharks from overfishing and the shark fin trade, and protecting critical marine habitat through marine protected areas and shark sanctuaries.

Learn more at www.sharkstewards.org.

Contact David McGuire david (at) sharkstewards.org